Posted in Fiction, Writing

Emotions

You’re creating a scenes within your novel. You want your audience to not only know what is going on but to feel what is going on as well. Is it enough to just describe the action, setting, and characters? No. Emotion must play a large role if your readers are going to keep reading. You want your readers to feel your character’s vulnerability, excitement, or sadness (and more). So, how do you do this?

When you’re watching a TV show or movie, you are able to SEE the characters’ emotions, but in a book readers aren’t readily able to SEE that, so they need to be SHOWN. Words aren’t enough, so we will need to insert some body language.

My previous post talked about emotions as it related to atmosphere/setting. Let’s go a little further with this; specifically, the scene itself. A scene occurs within a setting, so your descriptions of the actions and body language in conjunction with the surroundings will bring forth that emotion. The result? When done well, these emotions will ‘touch’ the reader and further draw them into your story.

Below are some short examples of visuals depicting emotion.

Sadness = downcast, a tear escaping down one’s cheek, sagging shoulders, shuffling feet with hands in pockets….
Excitement = smiling eyes, hurrying and bustling around trying to get ready to meet a particular someone they’d been wanting to meet for a long time, jumping up and down, a victory dance…
Relaxed = warm breeze, deep breath, a soft sound such as waves strolling onto shore, the rustling of leaves as the breeze whispers through them…
Anger = a blank stare, pursed lips, contorted face with squinted eyes, talking through one’s teeth, redness in the face…
Embarrassment = blushing cheeks, shy smile, glancing around the room as everyone stares at them, running out of the room…
Danger/Foreboding = a twisting in one’s gut, something is too neat, an unexplained noise, the lighting, shadows…

There is so much more that can be added to these examples, but you get the idea. It isn’t easy to incorporate emotions into a scene. You might have to experiment and play around with words before you FEEL that you have the right wording that will effectively convey just the right emotions to your readers.

Posted in Fiction, Writing

Atmospheric Emotion Continued

On (April 8, 2021) I posted a photo of a lightning storm and titled the post Atmospheric Emotion. In your writing you will need to convey emotions to your atmosphere/setting. This then creates a connection to your readers because they start to feel these emotions too. Typically, darkness or a dark room conveys foreboding or unease. A warm setting with trees, green grass, a cozy cabin with a small pond depicts serenity. But what if you want that calm serene scene to depict foreboding without the darkness? What can you insert into that scene to create that foreboding? Perhaps it’s too calm. Maybe the friend of yours who lives there is no where to be found. Her belongings and car are there, but she is not. Her cellphone is sitting on the patio table, so calling her won’t do any good. Or, perhaps he/she was there a minute ago and now he/she is not. He/she vanished in the midst of this calm setting.

When it comes to emotions and projecting them onto a setting, you must go beyond narration. Just telling your reader the back yard was creepy or gave your main character a creepy feeling or a sense of foreboding, is not enough. They must FEEL that sense. These emotional projections from a story to its reader(s) is part of what makes for a great book/story.

Example 1:

Bad
I hadn’t been in my friend, Elliot’s, basement before. Elliot had always been so upbeat all the time; full of jokes. But the black walls and purple lights were the opposite of my friend’s personality, so it was creepy.

Good
I hadn’t been in my friend, Elliot’s, basement before. I never understood why until now. In the past Elliot’s upbeat demeanor magnetized others. People drew to him. So, my breath caught in my chest, when I reached the bottom of his basement steps and flicked on the light. A deep purple glow radiated throughout the room in front of me. The color of the walls appeared to be black, but the purple light made it impossible to tell. A kind of mist seeped through a few cracks in the walls. It hit my nostrils and a dank stench reached my stomach, giving me the dry heaves. Peering to the left, a cot stood in the far corner. Was it my imagination, or was there an indentation of a body on the one and a half inch mattress? I inched that way to take a closer look. I came within five feet, and the indentation moved. No body was visible…..

Example 2:

Bad
I took my tea, opened the sliding glass door and stepped onto the back deck. The grass had been freshly mowed the day before and the flower gardens weeded. A well kept yard makes for a relaxing mood. I spotted the lounge chair to my right, walked over to it, and sat down.

Good
I lifted my tea to my nose and inhaled the ginger fragrance, causing me to smile at the sweet scent. The sun peeked out from behind a cloud and shown through the sliding glass door. I opened it and stepped out onto the back deck. A warm breeze whispered by and pushed my shoulder length hair back as I took in the freshly cut lawn and sweet scented flowers. Standing there taking in all of the beauty reminded of a mental massage of sorts. I stepped over to the cushioned lounge chair and sunk in, closing my eyes and relishing the clapping of the leaves on the trees as the breeze moved them.

In Example 1 the bad sample tells us that the character feels creepy, but do you the reader feel it? In don’t. We get that the main character feels creepy, but WE don’t feel as creeped out as he/she does. We don’t even believe he/she feels creeped out because the seriousness of the situation doesn’t come across.

In the good sample of Example 1 we feel the main character’s emotions of fear and apprehension, and we feel his disbelief of a friend who is normally upbeat but has a basement that’s dark and dreary. We are as creeped out as he/she is.

In Example 2 the bad sample is rather mundane and stale. We understand the environment is relaxed in nature but it doesn’t come across in the writing. The environment doesn’t evoke emotion at all.

However, the good sample of Example 2 conveys the imagery needed to evoke the relaxed and warm atmosphere to the reader. We can actually identify with this because most of us have experienced this type of relaxation. But, it wasn’t told to us as in the bad sample. It was SHOWN to us. Did you feel relaxed? I did.

Overall, emotions play a huge role in any story, especially when it comes to atmosphere/setting. They draw your readers into the text and keep them there. That’s where you want them, and you want them there to stay.

Posted in Books

UPDATE On My Book Link

Hi Everyone,

I just learned that, if you click on the book link for my book located on the BOOK page of this blog site, it didn’t take you to my book on Amazon. Instead it gave you a Page Not Found with a picture of a dog on it. I have since fixed this problem. So now, if you click on the link, it will work.

Posted in Writing

The Words We Fight With

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Today as I was climbing the steps up to my apartment, I happened to notice two yellow jackets fighting on one of the steps. I mean they were going full force. I stood there and watched them for a minute. Eventually, they parted about a centimeter, but their legs were still going at it. No, I didn’t stomp on them. They weren’t bothering me; just each other.

Isn’t it like that when we write sometimes? We fight like mad trying to find the right words to use in our writing projects. Just when we think we’ve found the right words, we back up, re-read it with our mind still fighting with the idea, ‘Did I get it right this time? Did I not? How do I know?’ Yes, we all have writing days like that. The answer is to tough it out. Leave your work and go back to it a day or two later. If you still don’t like it, continue fighting to get it the way you want it. Or, you can ask advice from someone else.

Stick with it. Don’t let that fight get you down. You can do it.

Posted in Fiction

Real Life with a Twist

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You are up in the mountains hiking with a friend. Along your path you come across a lone pint size milk carton. You’re a fiction writer, and you’re looking for ideas for another story but coming up with zilch. The hike in the mountains you feel will do you some good and perhaps get the wheels of creativity going. The milk carton accomplishes this goal as soon as you see it. It’s as if an electric spark shocked that story center of the right side of your brain. In an instant, your mind has a ‘What if scenario in place.

What if the milk carton had drops of blood on it, and the blood belonged to someone who vanished without a trace 50 years ago? The blood is fairly fresh too.

In reality, the milk carton is just a milk carton and it most likely belonged to another hiker. They finished the milk and didn’t want to take the carton with them, so they left it there. BOOM. That’s it. BUT, what you did with yourwhat ifscenario is put a twist on reality. That’s what fiction does. I love to put a creative spin on things. It makes life interesting.

Posted in Writing

The Writer’s Mark

Whether you know it or not, you leave tracks of yourself in places. No, I don’t mean visible tracks. Although, I bet that’s what many of you were thinking after you read that sentence, LOL. Seriously though, when we write and others read our work, something from you is left behind. It could be a mental picture, an emotion, a thought(s) or opinion about the story or stories, a yearning to read more (or less). Whatever it is you leave behind, a mark is left, and it’s a mark no other writer can leave.

Each writer has his/her own mark that is indigenous to them. No other writer can replicate it no matter how hard they try. It’s all in your word choice and expressions you use. When someone edits your work, be sure they don’t alter the YOU you put in it. If they do, then they’re putting themselves in it, and you don’t want that. I don’t think they do this on purpose. It’s something that happens and we need to be aware of it. But hey, you might like what they did with it and keep the changes they made.

Leaving a mark also means giving of yourself, so others can take the good you pass on and use it. Maybe it will inspire them to become a writer. That happened with me. When I was in middle school, I read a short story my older sister wrote about a young girl who goes and stays with her grandpa for the summer. It was a very heart warming story, and it left me wanting to write like that too. Although, I don’t write like her. I write like me, and I write fantasy fiction. That’s the only story she ever wrote, and I wish she wrote more. She’d make a great children’s author. But I was inspired by her because of the MARK she left by her own writing.

Posted in Writing

Out of the Way

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Sometimes we put up barriers when we write. This is different for everyone. Some of us analyze too much, while others plan too much. Yet some may strive for perfection before moving on. My barrier is the analyze thing. I question everything. Not that questioning things is bad to do. We should do that, but when you continue questioning whether what you wrote or in which place a scene/scenes was put, it takes up precious writing time.

Another author I follow and get advice from, told of a first time writer working on his first novel. This young writer asked his advice on his first chapter. So the author read the young writer’s first chapter and ended up being very impressed with it. He asked for more. The young writer didn’t have anymore to show, as he had been working on the first chapter for months trying to get it just right/perfect. The author shook his head and told the young writer to stop striving for perfection. Why? If you do that, you will never get your book written. As long a time it took him to get chapter one finished, he could have had multiple chapters finished had he focused more on getting the story out.

The first draft doesn’t have to be perfect. You just need to get the story written. When that first draft is finished, THEN go back to square one and change what you don’t like. This may be difficult at first, but with practice of letting go and letting the story unfold as it comes, perfection will take a back seat eventually.

Posted in Writing

Culturally Speaking

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Research is a wonderful thing. Time consuming? Yes, absolutely. In the end it enriches your story because it brings believability to the reading experience. If you don’t want to do the research, then don’t include that researchable element in your story. I say this because readers know when you’re winging it. This is so true when it comes to including information about other cultures in your story. Maybe another culture is essential to the plot. I know what you must be thinking. We all know this already. Well, yes. But some will still skip the research. Does researching mean you have to read everything and take extensive notes? No. Here are some ways you can conduct your research and have fun at the same time.

  • Read/take notes
  • Watch a documentary/take notes
  • Interview/record it/and/or take notes
  • Take a trip to that place: Israel, Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Russia, Germany. Whatever place your story incudes.
  • Pictures: for visual description if you aren’t able to go there.
  • Print out your material to use it later if you need it again.

I enjoy researching because I love to learn. Sometimes I take too much time with it, and it ends up taking away from my writing time. This is okay. Just think about how much richer your story will be for having done all that work.

Posted in Writing

Writing Tired

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You wake up in the morning, shuffle your way into the kitchen, turn on your coffee pot, put in a pod (or scoop of coffee depending on the type of coffee maker you have), and pour yourself a cup of coffee. As you sit and drink, you catch up on anything you may have missed on your phone while you were sleeping. The thought of writing starts scratching at your brain, as you begin to think about what you have to get done that day. Many other activities come to mind, but writing is still scratching at your brain. You know the only way to itch it is to sit down and write. But, you’re too tired, even with one cup of coffee in you. The creative juices aren’t being felt. So, you start to do other items on your list of chores to get done. Writing is now banging and clanging against your brain. The story wants to be written, but you don’t want to write because you’re still too tired. You continue doing other things. It’s now 3:00 in the afternoon and you don’t have anything written. You feel guilty because you promised yourself the day before that you would write at least 1000 words today. Uh oh, what do you do? Can you pop out 1000 words from 3:00 pm on?

YES, YOU CAN. Force yourself to do it. You CAN do it. Yes, even if you’re tired. Something will come. I’ve been caught in the “I’m too tired” trap too (too many times). Don’t let procrastination be your mantra.